After a historic 2022 campaign from Samford Football that culminated in an FCS Quarterfinal appearance and an 11-2 record, which tied for the best in program history, expectations for 2023 have been (and remain) sky high. Michael Hiers is back as quarterback, and there was no turnover in the main coaching positions: Chris Hatcher remains at the helm, as do OC Ricky Turney and DC Chris Boone. So, everything’s going to be great…. right?
Not so fast. Samford has been sluggish out of the gate, currently sitting at 2-3 overall. The loss total has already exceeded last year’s team, and in order for Samford to return to the FCS Playoffs, they will likely have to win out at least.
While I don’t think the season is lost, I do think that last season is looking more and more like an aberration. It starts with how Samford plays on the defensive side of the ball. When you play an air-raid style offense, the defense is likely to give up plenty of points. This is mainly due to possession time: the defense is bound to get more and more tired if they are on the field more, due to a high-scoring offense.
Since Chris Hatcher took over in 2015, Samford has given up at least 22 points per game every season. This year, Samford is allowing nearly 33 points per game through five games.
Hatcher has been steady at Samford, but overall has left plenty to be desired. Excluding the 2022 campaign, here are the records that he has accumulated since 2015: 6-5, 7-5, 8-4, 6-5, 5-7, 4-3, 4-7, and currently 2-3 in 2023.
Hatcher has shown what many in college football have known for years: the run-and-gun, air raid offense is a feast-or-famine gameplan. Its coaches adopt the mentality of “Yes, we’ll give up plenty of points, but you’re not scoring more than us.”
The problem with that is Samford’s offense is not always going to score 50 points per game. As a matter of fact, teams nationally can’t even sustain those numbers, let alone a smaller school like Samford.
So, my plea to Chris Hatcher and the Samford Football program is not to completely change the program and abandon the air-raid. I’m asking for a more balanced approach, one that emphasizes consistent results rather than a feast-or-famine style. It may take time and severe growing pains, but consistency is better than one glorious season sandwiched between plenty of average ones.